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kjh

And A 1 2 3: Dance Questions

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I'm a ballroom dance teacher, so I'd love to talk about the dancing. It is inconsistent at best on this show.

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As a fellow dancer, I love to see this thread. So, how many times have you heard "When are you going to be on Dancing with the Stars?!" ;-)

What's your biggest pet peeve on the show?

I'll answer mine, I have two:
1) The misconception that they are learning how to dance the various dances. While there certainly is some technical aspect, they are learning specific routines; specific choreography. You cannot walk into a dance studio and do what they're doing in a few weeks. It takes years to learn proper syllabus for the levels (bronze, silver, gold).
2) The choreography focuses too much on the entertainment aspect and not enough on the actual dance. Too many times I watch and think "That was a Rumba?" (see: Candace's last dance). I can appreciate good open routines, but it should be recognizable!

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Re: your second point, I couldn't agree more. Candace's rumba was appalling (NeNe's was not much better). They don't clarify what they want on this show, so they get this frankenstein combo of smooth/standard or latin/rhythm that does no favors to either style.

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I remember, way back in the day, when there would only be two dance styles each week and we would have the pros/dance troupe demonstrate the dance with Dance Master Len explaining one or two of the moves he expected to see.  I wish the show would do that again.

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See I remember that glorious episode happening...once. They had to do International rumba or International tango, there was one bronze figure, one silver figure, and one gold figure required from each couple, and a pro couple did a routine with those three figures pointed out. It was my favorite episode of the show to date other than the one with ballroom dance champions, and they've only done it once so I'm obviously the only one.

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I have a question for y'all! Maks and Meryl's foxtrot. I've seen it said that it was not a foxtrot at all, and also thy it was an (I think) international foxtrot, which has never been done on the show. Which is correct? I know nothing about ballroom except what I see on DWTS

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I know absolutely nothing about dance. My question is, I associate the dance style that Charlie and Sharna did week 3 as Broadway. Maybe I confuse Jive with Lindy or West Coast Swing. It just looked like something from a Jazz-handy Broadway show. maybe because there was less partner work. Help me on this? Signed, a dance idiot.

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I have a question for y'all! Maks and Meryl's foxtrot. I've seen it said that it was not a foxtrot at all, and also thy it was an (I think) international foxtrot, which has never been done on the show. Which is correct? I know nothing about ballroom except what I see on DWTS

I thought the main difference between the smooth and standard foxtrots were the music speed and the ability to break hold. I'm pretty sure all foxtrots require heel leads and do not allow for a stop in the middle to nearly kiss your partner. 

 

That being said, there was some (minimal)  foxtrot content in that dance - notably in the traveling circuit around the dance floor.  The rest of it seemed (to me) a combination of a rise-and-falless waltz and contemporary. 

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Unfortunately, my DVR hiccupped and didn't tape this week so I missed it.  To generally answer a few of your questions: you're correct, the main differences between Smooth and Standard Foxtrot is the speed and hold.  Smooth is faster and you can open up. Standard is slower "Slow Fox" and is only done in closed hold.  Foxtrot also has rise and fall, just like the Waltz.  It's just done to a different tempo. And yes, Foxtrot requires heel leads.

I'll have to find this one and Charlie's dance on YouTube to see the specifics.

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I finally got to see Meryl and Maks' Foxtrot on Demand!  From what I saw there were actually a lot more Foxtrot elements than I've seen in any other dances. They were in closed position quite a bit. But again, they did add a bunch of "showy" elements to it because, well.. it's a show.

But it was a Foxtrot. I thought she did fantastic!

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Can anyone tell me how the dances for each couple/each week are determined?  Is it just the producers pulling something out of the hat, or do the pros decide?  Or something else?

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Can anyone tell me how the dances for each couple/each week are determined?  Is it just the producers pulling something out of the hat, or do the pros decide?  Or something else?

Producers pulling something out of a hat sounds relatively fair. As it is, producers pick the dance styles. I don't know what criteria they use, but I don't believe it's at all random.

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It used to be for week 1 half the stars would do the cha cha and the other half the foxtrot. Week 2, those who did the cha cha would get the quickstep and those who got the foxtrot would get the jive. That way everyone would get a ballroom and a latin dance to start off. Since they've added contemporary and jazz, all that balance seems to have gone out the window. 

According to various statements from various pros, the first dance is decided after the star has had a few days of pre-season training.  While the pros are getting the stars into their "basic training" and assessing their abilities, the producers are watching and deciding how they're going to present each star. They do seem to pick that first dance so as to present the star as favorably as possible. 

After the first dance or two, I think tptb go heavily into scripting for each star. For example, Nene has had all latin dances except for 1 foxtrot where she can show off her big personality. And even that "foxtrot" was pretty theatrical.  Conversely, Drew has had more ballroom, possibly thinking they'd be less physically taxing (?), though they did give him a jive. I think they also plan dances to pit one against another (Meryl's tango immediately followed by Drew's tango).

Anyway, all this is just my observation and opinion.

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Thanks for the answers.  It just doesn't seem fair.  Every dancer should have to do the same dances—not in one week, that would be boring.  But they should pick 10 or so dances to rotate through the group.  That way everyone would have to do a waltz, paso doble, you get the idea.  And I would be fine if contemporary was not part of the equation.

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I wish they would go back to have only two dances per week, and four when they star having two dances a night. I hate this hodge-podge  of dances they have each week.

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Although I don't know a lot about ballroom, I do have some general dance knowledge. I remember when my daughter was competing and many teams in the pom category would do a jazz routine with a little bit of pom because you only needed 8 counts of pom for it to count as a pom routine. With the judges comments about whether or not something is a rumba or a foxtrot, it makes me wonder if there is any similar sort of rule in ballroom? That if you have a certain amount of that dance included, it counts?

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Although I don't know a lot about ballroom, I do have some general dance knowledge. I remember when my daughter was competing and many teams in the pom category would do a jazz routine with a little bit of pom because you only needed 8 counts of pom for it to count as a pom routine. With the judges comments about whether or not something is a rumba or a foxtrot, it makes me wonder if there is any similar sort of rule in ballroom? That if you have a certain amount of that dance included, it counts?

 

and on that note:  Is there a list of required elements when dancing in the professional/competition circuit?  I know that in figure skating (which I haven't watched in years ~ now just the Winter Games) the short program had a list of 8 required elements.  If you did them all you got a higher score than if you had missed one by leaving it out or messing it up (double toe loop instead of a triple toe loop).  

 

I wish the judges would say that they wanted to see certain basic/traditional steps and/or patterns for each dance.  Yes, there would be leeway for creativity but you must include X, Y and Z. Ice dancing used to do this.  When it came time to the set pattern dances, you had 32 counts (or so) at the beginning and at the end of each dance to lead into and lead out of the dance and that was where you made it your own.  

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I have a dance question. In his quickstep, Charlie seems to lunge forward and lose that straight up and down posture the pros have. It is a lot in the legs and thighs. I love watching him dance but that was puzzling to me. Can anyone help me with this? I have no actual knowledge of dance. 

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I have a dance question. In his quickstep, Charlie seems to lunge forward and lose that straight up and down posture the pros have. It is a lot in the legs and thighs. I love watching him dance but that was puzzling to me. Can anyone help me with this? I have no actual knowledge of dance. 

Neither do the judges, so I wouldn't worry to much about it.  ;-)

 

 

If I recall correctly, in quickstep everything from the waist up is supposed to remain upright and very, very still whereas all the action happens below .... I remember an instructor using the the analogy of a duck paddling across a pond - from the top view the duck looks very calm - however below the water surface you see this mad paddling going on.

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Is there a list of required elements when dancing in the professional/competition circuit?

 

There's a syllabus of moves you can perform for each level. You don't have to do all of the moves in the syllabus, but you absolutely cannot do a move that's in a higher level. 

 

A most recent example is my friend was competing at the Bronze level. In Bronze you're not allowed to do a develope (leg kick). At the Bronze level both feet must remain on the floor. She ended up getting 2nd because she did a prohibited move.

 

The focus is more on what's allowed vs. restricted for your level, rather than required elements.

 

If I recall correctly, in quickstep everything from the waist up is supposed to remain upright and very, very still whereas all the action happens below

 

 

Pretty much. You do have to use your core to dance, and not just "dancing your feet" (as my instructor reminds me every damn week.. grrrr), but yes, the frame should be solid and not hunched over.

 

I love the duck paddling analogy. teehee!

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Okay, here's a stupid question. What's up with the flare on the men's pants? I don't see it as much in DwtS now, but from the videos I've looked up they used to wear those wide-legged pants on the show as well (ex. here). I don't know why this bugs me so much...

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Okay, here's a stupid question. What's up with the flare on the men's pants? I don't see it as much in DwtS now, but from the videos I've looked up they used to wear those wide-legged pants on the show as well (ex. here). I don't know why this bugs me so much...

 

I'm not sure what you mean. They look like regular ballroom pants to me.  Are you referring to the bottom hem?  Men's dance pants need to be able to move and show movement.

 

Rhythm/Latin men's attire is odd anyway. Open shirts, sheer, etc.  But those pants look pretty standard to me.

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I'm not sure what you mean. They look like regular ballroom pants to me.  Are you referring to the bottom hem?  Men's dance pants need to be able to move and show movement.

 

Rhythm/Latin men's attire is odd anyway. Open shirts, sheer, etc.  But those pants look pretty standard to me.

I suppose you answered my question with the portion above in bold. My question was mainly why men's dance pants in general seem to have such a wide leg as compared to the pants you see in every day life. I don't really follow competitive dance, so they look strange to me.

 

About the DwtS-specific difference from a few years ago to now, I think this may illustrate what seems to have been a change from earlier seasons (season 13 vs. season 18). S18 was my first season watching, but from videos I've seen, it seems like the male pros used to wear much wider legged pants? Not sure if my impression is correct. 

 

I don't know why, but I'm fixated on it and not knowing why the pants are so wide has bothered me for a while now...

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Dance question: (I am a non-dancer) When watching last night, I felt like Riker's frame was all screwed up because of the height difference. How does a dancer compensate for that? Are there things Allison could teach him to improve his posture in hold? 

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How does a dancer compensate for that?

All of my dance knowledge has come from watching the livestreams so take this for what it's worth. In one of Val and Rumer's livestreams - the one where Keo came in - Rumer asked what to do with a taller partner. The answer was that she would have to be more pulled up and straighter and dance taller. I noticed a couple of times where Allison wasn't as tall as she could have been, which I think contributed to some of the frame issues.

 

I was really excited that I actually noticed something technical.

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My partner and I have a pretty significant height difference (see picture).  He absolutely should not do anything to compensate for me.  The only change he needs to make is his hand around my back in Tango needs to be lower so that I can wrap my arm around his and tuck it under his arm properly.  But that's very minor.  

 

Riker's overall frame should stay the same regardless of the height of his partner.

 

And basically as stated above, it might be Allison's issue.  You should take care of your own frame... period. 

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Honestly, their height difference isn't that bad. As far as I'm concerned, the big issue with his frame was that he kept letting his left side collapse, which can happen regardless of the height differential. His hips also went wonky in places, which had a cascade effect.

I definitely agree with LadyArcadia about not compromising one's own frame though. There was a pretty big height difference between me and partner-before-last (bigger than it looks like LA has), so that was something I had drilled into me. In general terms, the height difference will impact how deep the lead gets into his knees though. It may impact the angle of his left forearm as well. But not where his elbows are.

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Hmm, I'm not a dancer, but Emma said on the live stream that he should have come down slightly to match Allison's height, and he was emphasizing their height difference by holding her too high. Is that wrong, or are there two schools of thought on that?

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Julie Fryer on the Dutch version of DWTS was really good at teaching her male celebs about the importance of keeping their frames up and open, even though her partners were always much taller than she is.  She made it clear that it was never their job to compensate for the height difference by dancing down to her; rather, it was her job to compensate by dancing up to their height, and she really drilled posture, frame, and core strength into her partners.  I remember watching her stretch herself into one REALLY tall partner's frame, and it made me think of a rubber doll being pulled by the arms.  She made it work, though -- she and her partner won the competition that year!

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Hmm, I'm not a dancer, but Emma said on the live stream that he should have come down slightly to match Allison's height, and he was emphasizing their height difference by holding her too high. Is that wrong, or are there two schools of thought on that?

 

I think she might not have been clear on what she meant.  There's a difference between compromising frame vs. lowering in the knees more.  A leader should never compromise frame because of their follower's height.  Always, always big, tall, and open.

 

However, (as judemorrigan said) in some dances (Bolero) my partner has to go deeper in the legs for me to do the movement correctly.  

 

But overall, no.... a leader should not come down or compromise their frame to match their follower. 

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That's what I always got from my instructors, legaleagle. There are practical concerns, of course. And this could easily be a case of different instructors explaining the same concept in two different, seemingly contradictory ways. There's a *lot* of that in ballroom.

I will stand by my statement that his left side was seriously borked though. And yes, it was causing Alison to have to wildly overextend on that side. Whether you want to call the process of fixing that "bringing the frame down" or something else would apparently depend on the instructor and what they were wanting to emphasize at the time. (My own would snap "bird wing" to me were I to do what he was doing. It makes sense in context. Honest! ;-))

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That made me giggle, judemorrigan.  They do say the silliest things, don't they?  I think my favorite was (in regards to arm extension), "Pretend you're Emperor Palpatine shooting lighting out of your fingers."  

 

It worked!

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How can you tell if a man is leading?

 

There are obviously costume "rules."  There is one dance - it's a ballroom one I think - where the women always have 2 flowy things coming down their backs.  I can never understand how the men don't get tangled in them. There is another one - latin one I think - where the women have a ton of braclets on. What are the costume rules, and why (besides the obvious "local/historical" signifigance).

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How can you tell if a man is leading?

 

There are obviously costume "rules."  There is one dance - it's a ballroom one I think - where the women always have 2 flowy things coming down their backs.  I can never understand how the men don't get tangled in them. There is another one - latin one I think - where the women have a ton of braclets on. What are the costume rules, and why (besides the obvious "local/historical" signifigance).

 

It's tough to tell. I think for me, the biggest indicator is if the woman is moving before the man. In true lead/follow, the steps shouldn't even be in sync; the woman should always be just a touch behind.  While watching DWTS, I often notice the female pros doing the movement first and sort of guiding the leader throughout the dance. It's very slight, but noticeable for most of the female pros/male stars.

 

Costume rules:

In International Standard aka "Ballroom" (Waltz, Tango, Slow Foxtrot, Viennese Waltz, Quickstep) you're always in closed hold. No turns or separation. Since you're always together, this allows the woman to wear the pretty flowy things without getting caught up. :)  They're called "floats."

 

In American Smooth (Waltz, Tango, Foxtrot, Viennese Waltz) you are allowed to separate, do turns, showcase different elements. No floats should be worn because of the issue of getting tangled up.

 

There isn't much of a difference between International Latin (Cha-Cha, Rumba, Jive, Samba, Paso Doble) and American Rhythm (Cha-Cha, Rumba, East Coast Swing, Bolero, Mambo) costumes.  Although, in my experience, Latin costumes tend to be longer and more sultry.

 

DWTS has never really defined which style they're doing. They call out "Latin Night", but other than that, it's sort of a mix-match of the styles.  

 

In general: If you don't see floats, it's probably some form of Smooth.

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